Stephen Foley: Can Hefner bear to part with Playboy?


US Outlook Someone needs to persuade Hugh Hefner to hang up his dressing gown. The 83-year-old founder of Playboy magazine is in talks about selling his company, according to rumours swirling on the New York Stock Exchange, but it remains uncertain if the old lech can bear to part with it.

Too many large parts of the company, Playboy Enterprises, have slipped into anachronism. A tsunami of porn from the internet has washed away its pay-television business. The magazine Mr Hefner launched in 1953 with Marilyn Monroe on the cover, which has scaled back publication from 12 issues to 10 per year, is these days described by the company as a "publicity generator" rather than a source of profit. Feminism happened, too, of course, even if Mr Hefner didn't spot it.

The group's annual revenues have flatlined around the $300m mark for the whole of this decade, and the company rarely eked out a profit. This year looks even worse for the bottom line.

One of the potential buyers is Iconix, a company which specialises in reviving old brands, and which owns the fashion brands Candie's and London Fog. The tie-up makes sense, since Playboy's future clearly lies in hitching the brand to new ventures such as fancy nightclubs, fragrances and the like, but it has already made quite strong inroads in these areas.

The main task facing a new owner would be to take a meat-cleaver to the older parts of the company, faster than business reality can whittle them away. That is too painful a process for a Hefner, one of the reasons the founder's daughter, Christie, stepped down as chief executive in January. If her father wants to protect his legacy, he must step aside from it, too.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

competitive: SThree: Are you passionate about sales?Do you have a keen interes...

Recruitment Genius: Loan Adviser - OTE £30,000

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Assistant / Buyer

£15000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company offers a range of ...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisor

£15000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisors are r...

Day In a Page

Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

Greece referendum

Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

7/7 bombings anniversary

Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

Versace haute couture review

Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created
No hope and no jobs, so Gaza's young risk their lives, climb the fence and run for it

No hope and no jobs in Gaza

So the young risk their lives and run for it
Fashion apps: Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers

Fashion apps

Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers
The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate